ne of my sisters-in-law recently passed along this tribute written by one of her cousins for the Utica (NY) Daily News:
On July 4th, 2007 I was admitted to University Hospital in Syracuse for bacterial encephalitis; a few days passed and my condition only seemed to worsen. Shortly thereafter, I fell into a coma for what would be a total of five days, during which I had emergency brain surgery, stopped breathing on my own, and subsequently wound up on life support. In what seemed like an instant, I was in a fight for my life. Eventually with great care and amazing physicians I woke up, but the world as I knew it had changed a great deal in those five days. It seems the bacteria that had attacked my brain had done a significant amount of damage. The left side of my body was paralyzed, my vision was like that of a video camera being shook, I couldn’t swallow, breathe unassisted or even sit up or roll over on my own in bed. Everything as I knew it was now different…well, all but one thing. That one thing was my wife. She was the first person I saw when I woke up and I remember her showing me pictures of my three little boys and asking me questions about them that I could only answer with hand signals. You see for all the medicine, and equipment, and talent that I had to take care of me, I had the one thing that was better than all of those things combined.
Somehow, my wife knew that if my family was in the front of my mind, I would be okay. I would have reason to hope, and hold on, and eventually get out of a wheelchair and become me again. That night, my wife explained everything that had happened while I was asleep, but she also kept repeating and repeating how much my boys loved and missed me. It hurt; I was scared, confused, angry, you name the emotion and I probably felt it at some point. But I didn't care, because there were those boys of mine and I was not ready to leave them. She talked about them all the time, as much as she could, knowing full well that hearing about them would only make me fight harder to get home to them. For obvious reasons, talking about certain parts of my illness is not all that fun. But this week, this week when we honor mothers is different. It’s funny how we think of a mother as one who guides young children through life, teaching them right from wrong, and so many other things. But for me, I think of the mother of my children as the glue that kept our family together. I think of her as the one who managed the house, the bills, the kids, absolutely everything, when all I could manage to do was lie in bed and recuperate. And yet she never complained, she never said it was too much, or too hard, or even unfair.
At times, I wondered if my wife would eventually throw in the towel, as I know I would have. But her answer was simple and to the point. I made a promise, a promise to you and to God that I would love you no matter what. Talk about commitment. I talk to my three boys often and we talk of all the things that matter in life, and the importance of becoming a good man. Truth be told, I tell them about their mother, about what it means to be a friend even when you wind up getting the short end of the stick. We talk about words like dedication, commitment, faith, loyalty, responsibility, and somehow the conversation always ends up where it started, with their mother. A lot of men say they live for their wives; I can honestly say I live because of my wife. [L]ucky for me I have a public forum in which I get to tell the world how much I love my wife, and just what an amazing mother she is.
…I have no political or social points to make. Not even a cage to rattle….. Instead, a request: that we realize all mothers are working mothers and undoubtedly the best way to love your children is to love their mother. Live well, love well, regards.